Does a Two-year Degree Actually Take two Years?

For some, college is an experience to be indulged in. The years on campus, playing sports, and being a part of student life are enriching and valuable. For others, college is a stepping stone to be climbed quickly so as to embark onward. The first group of students may attend school and take 4-5 classes each semester, and then maybe a class in the summer (but maybe not). The second group will bulk load their studies, taking 5-7 classes per semester, then a course during winter break, and a full load in the summer, effectively taking up to 51 credits in a calendar year.

While the first group achieves an associate’s degree in 2-3 years, the second group has it is 16 months. The question is, how does one do this?

Mental Readiness is Extremely Important

Stephen Covey wrote in his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly effective People that in order to accomplish something, we must begin with the end in mind.

For students looking to achieve a high volume of college credits quickly, this means that one must be prepared for the hardships of such a heavy course load. The average full-time student can graduate on time by taking 15 credits (5 classes) per semester, enjoying the summer break. This involves 15 actual hours in the classroom per week, and up to another 15 studying and writing papers.

By crushing these averages, students are also using more of their time to accomplish this goal – approximately 40-50 hours, not including commuting. While this is definitely possible, it is improbable for some.

The Freedom to Embrace Education Over Everything Else

Aside from the tenacity to attack one’s education with such energy, students are going to need some things that are not in their control. For one, they’ll need to be able to attend school without needing to work. They may have a part-time job on the weekends, or maybe even one night a week, but students working full-time because they have to are very unlikely to have the flexibility to embrace this kind of course schedule. After all, courses are sometimes scheduled at inconvenient times.

For students with families, the desire to succeed is present, but the availability is not always there. After all, this kind of schedule is going to create the equivalent of an absentee parent.

Athletes can forget this option altogether. The demands of playing sports in school is equivalent to doubling up on courses, at least during the season.

Careful Planning and Scheduling

For those who can, the final step is to coordinate the school year. While some students merely look at what is available this coming semester, others are looking as far ahead as possible. For example, will a course that is available this term be available during the next one? If so, does it conflict with another necessary course?

It is not going to matter if you want to take the course early if it’s not offered. By failing to plan carefully, it’s possible that a student can get all but 3 credits completed in 16 months, only to have to wait until the spring semester to get their associate’s degree, effectively bringing them to graduation on time.

In sum, the keys to accomplishing this goal are pursuing it ruthlessly, having the availability to do so, and planning carefully.